Phragmites australis

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaPoaceaePhragmitesPhragmites australis


A rhizomatous and stoloniferous herb of swamps and fens, forming large stands in shallow water in ditches, rivers, lakes and ponds; also in brackish swamps and lagoons, and in freshwater seepages on sheltered sea-cliffs. It is frequently planted beside artificial water bodies. Generally lowland, but reaching 470 m on Brown Clee Hill (Salop).



World Distribution

Circumpolar Wide-temperate element.

© M. Cotterill, IWNHAS

Broad Habitats

Fen, marsh and swamp (not wooded)

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 10

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 6

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 2

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.7

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.7

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1055

Height (cm): 270

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Perennial hydrophyte (perennial water plant)

Life Form - secondary

Non-bulbous geophyte (rhizome, corm or tuber)

Comment on Life Form

"although a water plant, basic behaviour is as a rhizomatous geophyte"



Clonality - primary

Rhizome far-creeping

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2182

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 785

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 11

Atlas Change Index: 0.43

Weighted Changed Factor: 15

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


JNCC Designations


Atlas text references

Atlas (371c)
Grime JP, Hodgson JG, Hunt R
1988.  Comparative Plant Ecology.
Haslam SM
1972.  Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 128. Phragmites communis Trin. Journal of Ecology. 60:585-610.
Haslam SM, McDougall DSA
1972.  The Reed ('Norfolk Reed'), edn 2.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Preston CD, Croft JM
1997.  Aquatic plants in Britain and Ireland.